Psalm 34 Of David. When he pretended to be insane before Abimelech, who drove him away, and he left.
1 I will extol the LORD at all times; his praise will always be on my lips.
2 My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afflicted hear and rejoice.
3 Glorify the LORD with me; let us exalt his name together.
4 I sought the LORD, and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears.
5 Those who look to him are radiant; their faces are never covered with shame.
6 This poor man called, and the LORD heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles.
7 The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.
8 Taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who takes refuge in him.
9 Fear the LORD, you his saints, for those who fear him lack nothing.
10 The lions may grow weak and hungry, but those who seek the LORD lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD.
12 Whoever of you loves life and desires to see many good days,
13 keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking lies.
14 Turn from evil and do good; seek peace and pursue it.
15 The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their cry;
16 the face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the memory of them from the earth.
17 The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles.
18 The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.
19 A righteous man may have many troubles, but the LORD delivers him from them all;
20 he protects all his bones, not one of them will be broken.
21 Evil will slay the wicked; the foes of the righteous will be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems his servants; no one will be condemned who takes refuge in him.
Though suffering is inevitable, handling it well is not. The goal of the study is to learn how in times of suffering fearing the Lord, rather than our circumstances, places you under God’s protection in order to experience his glory.
The Lent season corresponds to Jesus’ time in the wilderness. The Psalms help us in times of self-examination, difficulty, and dryness, leading us to see our need for grace and teach us to long again for Christ’s redemption and resurrection.
Though impossible to see in English, Psalm 34 is an acrostic psalm, meaning every verse begins with the next letter of the Hebrew alphabet. So the Psalm can be called the “ABCs for a Crisis.” The subject of this psalm is “What to do when… afflicted (v. 2), filled with fears (v.4), surrounded by troubles (v. 6, 17), brokenhearted, crushed in spirit (v. 18) or in many afflictions (V. 19).” In short, “What to do when… bad things happen.” If we heed David’s advice, we will seek the Lord and find our refuge.
The goal in this section is to recognize how we currently handle suffering, and to learn from David how to handle it wisely.
(vv. 1-3) Having experienced great suffering, David now urges the afflicted to do what he did, cry out to God and experience his protection and peace. Have you experienced suffering? If so, to where did you turn?
(vv. 4-7) David attests that when we seek God in these times we can experience deliverance and liberation from the power of suffering in our lives. As a group consider aloud what deliverance, liberation and even protection from suffering might look like?
The goal of this section is to take the hope-filled promises of God and grow in our trust that these same promises also are best for us today.
(vv. 8-10) So far, God promises through David that when you take refuge in him you will lack ‘no good thing.’ Many of us know this in our head yet in our daily lives we seek things less reliable for satisfaction or security. Why is it so hard to believe that in God we will lack nothing that we really need? How might David’s language here, move us to greater degrees of trust and pleasure in God?
(vv.11-14) David starts the new section by saying ‘I will teach you’ and then launches into a call to live a holy, obedient life. Why do you think he essentially says, “When in trouble do the right thing?” What does “fear of the Lord” mean? How might that “fear” be a good and helpful way to nurture holiness in our daily life?
The goal of this section is to see the profound degree to which God longs to provide protection and refuge for the brokenhearted and crushed.
(vv. 18-22 ) According to the Bible, God’s whole agenda is to bring human beings from suffering into glory. What do we learn about our own suffering and our ability to trust God in light of Jesus’ death on the cross?
(VV. 1-22) How does Christianity uniquely redeem our suffering?
Throughout Lent we will practice Lectio Divina on the Psalms we are studying. At the conclusion of this study have someone read Psalm 34 out loud again. Follow this with 5 minutes of silence, where individuals are encouraged to reflect on the Psalm with head and heart engaged. Perhaps there is a phrase or verse that caught your attention or something that was said by one of the CG members that you found arresting or convicting. Take some time to prayerfully reflect on it before God. Meditate on the obstacles that prevent you from fully believing and obeying the truth. Ask God for personal renewal and strength. Let God speak to you as you speak to him. After the 5-minute period of silence have someone read Psalm 34 out loud once more. Then go around in a circle and have each person mention aloud the one phrase that captured them with no additional commentary.
Following this, have one person pray, or invite the group to pray, giving thanks for the things God has taught you during the study of the Psalm.
Catch one another up on your lives so we can celebrate, thank God, and share challenges that need prayer. Share about any meaningful conversations you have had with friends who don’t self-identify as Christians. If there is a particular work or mission that God is calling you to make others aware of that so they can pray for you.
Pray for the group members, the church, the city and the world. Give thanks for the good things going on in individuals’ lives and the church, seek God’s help for the challenges that are being faced, and pray for the flourishing of freedom.